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Credit: From Left to Right: Urnex, Crate and Barrel, Fellow, Cutting-Mats, Aeropress

We Asked 22 Coffee Pros About the Gear They Use at Home — And They Had Lots of Surprises

updated May 21, 2021
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Who doesn’t love free professional advice? Like a secret trick from a famous chef, a realtor’s tip about upgrading your kitchen, or the best time to order groceries online according to an Instacart insider? Or, how about, the tools coffee professionals use at home, off the clock, to make an incredible brew?

Lucky for you, I happen to know a lot of said pros from all areas of the coffee industry — and they love to talk about their favorite gear. Whether it’s something basic or super niche, here’s what my fellow colleagues said they can’t live without.

1. OXO 8-Cup Coffee Maker

Victus Coffee’s Anne Mercer uses an automatic brewer at home. “Loving the OXO 8-Cup Coffee Maker lately!” she says. “I can rely on it to always brew a balanced coffee and keep it warm … especially when I absentmindedly brew it and walk away for an hour to do work.”

2. Technivorm Moccamaster

Stumptown Coffee’s Kathie Heilberg is also a fan of an automatic brewing machine, but she goes for the Technivorm Moccamaster. “It’s a simple drip coffee maker that does all the things we coffee pros need: water that’s hot enough, a basket that holds enough coffee, etc.,” Heilberg says. “It’s also uncomplicated, all the parts are easy to take apart and clean, and it uses standard #4 [paper] filters like most drip brewers, which are easy to come by. I’ve used it almost every day for the last year!”

3. A Kitchen Timer

Emily Smith, sales representative for Mercon Specialty coffee importers in Seattle loves her regular ol’ kitchen timer. “When I learned to roast, I was put in front of the sample roaster with a timer and bag of green [unroasted coffee]. I learned roasting by using my senses and watching that timer. Now it’s my top roasting tool.” Emily especially loves a timer with a magnetic back, which makes it easy to stick on a roaster’s cooling tray. If you’re a novice home roaster, you should absolutely have a few on hand.

4. A Cake Tester

Steve Rhinehart works as the e-Commerce manager for Acaia Scales, and he loves precision. His go-to tool is an espresso geek’s best friend: “I have been using a Wilton Cake Tester to stir my grounds in the portafilter basket for about a decade,” he says, describing a technique baristas often use to make sure espresso grounds are evenly dispersed. “It helps break up clumps and redistribute the coffee for a more even bed before tamping,” Rhinehart says. “The best part is this is a really inexpensive way to improve your espresso.”

5. Espazzola Cleaning Tool

Rhinehart also loves cleanliness — which is a trend among coffee people. He uses the Espazzola, an espresso machine cleaning tool designed for use in both commercial and home machines. “Espresso machine group [heads] get dirty, and brushing the bits away is a delicate dance, as you try to dodge your already calloused barista fingers out of the way of splashes of hot water,” Rhinehart says. “The Espazzola will save your fingers and time! It’s sized just like a portafilter and has a spiffy silicone brush head. Lock it in, run the water a couple seconds, give it a few squeaks back and forth, and now your whole screen and group head are all free of gunk. So easy, so quick, and my hands love me for it.”

6. Espresso Machine Cleaner

The last thing Rhinehart can’t live without is Cafiza, espresso machine cleaning powder that can be used on all kinds of coffee-brewing equipment. “Who doesn’t love the stuff?” he says. “It’s a miraculous powder that will de-crud even your most stubborn caked-on coffee residue. I recommend it to everybody I know who drinks coffee.”

7. Electronics Cleaning Brush

Cleanliness is also the most important thing to Andrew Sinclair, co-founder of Los Angeles’ Mad Lab Coffee. “I literally just bought this [OXO Good Grips Electronics Cleaning Brush], and it’s game-changing for those hard-to-reach cleaning spaces on espresso machines.”

8. American Press

Garrett Oden from Coffee Marketing School has just the thing for high-quality and no-fuss home brewing on the road: “When I moved to working remotely, my wife and I took a round-the-world trip for a year,” he says. “We used the It’s American Press daily for coffee.” Like a French press, but updated, the press is indestructible, consistent, and big enough for two cups of joe.

9. Turkish Coffee Set

Silvia Constantin of Barista School Romania says, “Since my mom discovered espresso, we have an automatic machine, but also we ibrik.” An ibrik or cezve is a traditional style of brewing device commonly used in Turkish, Arabic, and Greek coffee preparation. It’s designed to make a small amount of thick, strong brew similar in flavor to a rich espresso. Speciality Turkish Coffee sells a starter kit that includes coffee, a brewer, a heating device, and a grinder.

10. Aeropress

Cale Guidry, bar manager for Rêve Coffee in Lafayette, Louisiana, loves the Aeropress, a hand-held, small-batch contraption that can brew regular-strength coffee and espresso-like concentrate. ”In a pinch, it is the ultimate brewer of versatility,” Guidry says. “Quite literally [there’s] an endless amount of combinations and methods for just about every flavor profile you could ever brew. I keep one and a notepad on me at all times.”

11. Able Brewing Disk

If you have or want to get an Aeropress, you should also get an Able Brewing Disk, says Q-grader (the coffee equivalent to a sommelier) and founder of Dear Green Coffee Roasters, Lisa Lawson. “I’ve never been far from my Able Brewing Disk,” she says. “I think I bagged one of the first! It’s lasted longer than my original Aeropress, and saved me at least 4,000 paper filters … probably more.”

12. Porlex Hand Grinder

Madeleine Longoria Garcia is a Q-grader and co-owner of Pacific Coffee Research in Hawaii. While these days she isn’t traveling too much (who is?), she says she always carries a Porlex hand grinder with her when she’s on extended trips. “The grinder fits inside an Aeropress, which is perfect for minimalist travelers/backpackers.” Not only is this slim, handheld burr grinder precise, it weighs next to nothing. 

13. Stagg Pour-Over Kettle

Every good brew deserves a great kettle, and coffee consultant and founder of Untitled Coffee, Stuart Ritson, swears by his Stagg Pour-Over Kettle, which has a gentle gooseneck curve to its pouring spout, allowing for complete control. “I’ve used a lot of pour-over kettles, and I really value how you can minimize the flow rate to such a small quantity, slowing down brew times if you need,” Ritson says.

14. Kalita Wave Brewer

Andytown Coffee Roasters’ Corey Turner loves his Kalita Wave brewer, a type of pour-over cone that uses a wavy-shaped filter and a flat-bottom brew bed to create an even, forgiving brew. “I love it because you can brew when you’re still half asleep and it’ll be delicious every time,” he says. 

15. Bonavita Coffee Maker

Turner also has a backup for when he needs something that’s even easier to use: He loves his Bonavita coffee maker. “A life saver when you don’t feel like making a pour-over,” he says, “and it doesn’t require you to brew a full pot to make a great cup.”

16. Baratza Sette

What does Turner recommend for grinding? He adores his Baratza Sette, the gold standard for home grinders. While every grinder Baratza makes is loved by coffee professionals the world over, this one is versatile enough for brewed coffee as well as espresso. “Simple design, compact, consistent, durable, and pretty easy to troubleshoot,” Turner says.

17. Umeshiso The Big Dipper

Lastly, for coffee cupping, Turner recommends Umeshiso spoons, designed and sold by longtime coffee professional and author of The @wastingcoffee Guide to Not Wasting Coffee, Umeko Motoyoshi. “I love these because they’re pretty, and because they’re designed to break bro-culture specialty coffee norms,” Turner says, thanks to Umeko’s mission to make coffee accessible to everybody. Umeshiso spoons are really beautiful and are perfect for coffee tasting.

18. PKK Ceramics Mug

Coffee writer Julie Wolfson is a self-proclaimed “big coffee geek,” and thinks coffee is better when served in a beautiful cup. That’s why she reaches for servingware by PKK Ceramics. “I love having a tall cup with no handle, and the raw-clay exterior feels so good to hold in the mornings,” she says.

19. Acaia Scale

Angelo Sportelli works for the Italian espresso machine manufacturing legend Gruppo Cimbali, so he knows how important it is to have a precise, consistent, water-resistant scale for weighing espresso. None of this is a problem for his “favourite gizmo,” the Acaia Lunar scale. “Best of all,” he says, “it tares itself!” (Note: Sportelli’s favorite scale is made for a commercial environment, but Acaia also sells the Pearl scale, which is amazing for home brewing.)

20. A Small Notebook

Coffee competitor and independent barista Meghan-Annette Reida says her favorite tools are actually tiny notebooks and pens. They’re good “for jotting down ideas, recipes, notes, important information, and you’re not scrambling for paper to write on,” she says. “I’m currently carrying the XS Moleskine, which I enjoy for its delightful assortment of colors and minuscule size that easily fits most shirt pockets. I also love the Muji A6, which is slightly larger.”

21. Dropper Bottles

Norman Mazel is a certified Q-grader who works in the Netherlands, and he has the nerdiest pro tip of them all: He loves a small dropper bottle, which he uses to reduce static in his coffee grinder. Static electricity is the reason your coffee grinder spews some grounds all over the counter, or why some get stuck inside the dispenser. “Whether in the cupping lab or at home, for my espresso [grinder], and my hand-powered grinder, I just gently shake a droplet or two [of water] on the beans, then grind!,” Mazel says. Just be sure not to use more than a drop or two!

22. A Sodastream

Michelle R. Johnson, CEO of the Chocolate Barista, waxes poetic about her at-home seltzer maker. “The SodaStream is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I’m always trying different coffees, so on those multi-cup days, soda water is the ultimate palate cleanser,” she says. “Plus, bubbly water adds extra razzle-dazzle to hydrating, which everyone needs to do if they’re drinking coffee all day every day.”

23. TightVac Canisters

Nancy Langer from Albuquerque’s Red Rock Roasters is all about freshness: “I love TightVac [Coffee Canisters] for what I take home for personal use from the roastery.” Nothing keeps coffee tasting better than protection from light and air.

24. Little Scales and Cups

Lex Clayman, general manager for Cartel Coffee Lab, loves “little cups and scales,” which are perfect for pre-measuring doses of coffee. At Cartel, Clayman explains, the espresso shots are all weighed out: 20 grams of coffee grounds into the machine, and 40 grams of liquid espresso at the end of the brew. Measuring your coffee by weight is much more accurate than eyeballing it or even using scoops, so most pros have taken a weigh-and-brew approach to their coffee, both at home and at work. The scale is important — you want it to measure down to 1/10th of a gram — but you can use any small cup or container to hold the beans and brew.

25. Melitta Aromaboy

U.K. Brewers Cup finalist and operations manager for Full Court Press Coffee, Christopher Earles, loves his small-batch home setup: A hand-powered and precise Comandante Grinder and a Melitta Aromaboy two-cup brewer (Note: The Comandante Grinder is super sold out everywhere right now, but there is a list of authorized retailers in the U.S., which can be found here!)

26. An Air-Quality Sensor

Jairon Francisco is the founder of Escuela de Café República Dominicana, and there are a few things he can’t live without: “As I’m a coffee roaster and have to spend several hours in a very noisy and dusty environment, I love my air-quality sensor and my vacuum cleaner,” he says. The first is particularly useful for coffee roasters, who are surrounded by green-coffee dust and other by-products of roasting. And if you ever consider roasting coffee at home (and why not!), having one can let you know whether you’re getting enough ventilation. A portable vacuum is also a huge plus in the kitchen, whether you’re home roasting, countertop grinding, or brewing espresso. Francisco likes a light and slim unit like the cordless Eufy HomeVac to get rid of unwanted debris.

27. Dusting Brush

Handheld vacuum not your thing? If you prefer to go analog, Evan Agilman, creative director for the green-coffee importing company Royal Coffee, has an inexpensive and simple suggestion: “A drafting brush might be the most boring thing ever, but it’s so good for cleaning up [coffee] grounds!” He likes the classic look and feel of an Alvin Draftsman’s Mini-Duster Dusting Brush